Human capital development expert Dr. Jeffrey Magee drops by for a fruitful conversation on finding and hiring the right team for your business.
Business success hinges on a lot of factors, but one that stands out in importance is human capital. For a business to boom, it needs to hire the right team. Meny Hoffman is joined by Dr. Jeffrey Magee, author, publisher, and expert on human capital development. Dr. Magee explains how you can identify which persons are right for your team, how you should manage them and why you need to hire the right people. Find out who are the right people for your team and hire them with these tips from Dr. Magee.
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How to Energize Your Team for Maximum Productivity—with Dr. Jeffrey Magee
My guest is Dr. Jeffrey Magee. Jeffrey is known as the “Thought Leaders’ Leader,” and he is the C-Suite coach used by Fortune 100 firms, the Army National Guard, the Federal Reserve, and many other entrepreneurial businesses. With over two decades of executive and corporate development expertise, Jeffrey is a highly sought keynote speaker and columnist on high–performance business growth, sales, and leadership. He has authored 31 books, including four bestsellers and four graduate management textbooks. Jeffrey is also the creator of a signature online managerial leadership engagement development series, the Leadership Academy of Excellence, and publisher of Professional Performance 360 Magazine.
This episode is for you business owners and C-level executives. You should read this not only once, twice but take action. We discussed the importance of how you go about hiring the right team and making sure your team gives you the full potential. Not only did we discuss how to make sure that the team gives you the full potential, we’re going to discuss the process from the hiring process up to giving them the proper help and support in order to make sure they give you the proper support for your company.
In our interview, Jeff and I discussed the two most important areas where every leader needs to stay focused on and the importance of people, which is your talent. How do you make sure your people are giving you the full potential? Not only the importance of giving you the full potential but also how can you make sure from the hiring process to all those reviews to constantly coach and guide your people to be A players. We also shared some very interesting data points of usually a company have the makeup of people are and what your job as a leader is to shift people to A players. We also discussed the importance of you as a leader, even if you’re not built with leadership skills. How you can really train yourself to become the leader your company needs. This is a great interview. I loved every moment, and you will too. Without further ado, here is my interview.
Jeffrey, thank you for joining me on the show.
When I got your bio, I got to learn a little bit more about you. You have a lot of experience in working with the Fortune 100, military, and so on. Let’s set the stage. Tell us a little bit about the background and what brought you to what you’re doing right now.
I appreciate it very much. Thank you. I was raised on a farm in the Midwest, went to college on an athletic and journalism scholarship. That quickly gave me some wake up calls that when you think you’re a hotshot at any one point in your life, it takes you to the next level of people you’re going to interact with, so you’ve got to bring your A game. Sometimes your A game is not good enough in certain places. I learned at an early age in college that the runners at the collegiate level were a lot better than they were at the high school level. That’s a lesson I’ve brought forth through the decades where I am now.
I spent some time as a journalist in Kansas City and loved it but got very discouraged in the ‘80s with how negative, combative, and misleading journalism was back in those days. It’s not that way now at all. I left it cold. Whenever you’re unemployed in the world internationally in America, the good news is there’s always a job. It’s called a sales job. If you’re not good, you may not keep it, but there’s always an opening for a sales professional. That put me on a whole different life trajectory. I’ve been in sales and management, and business. I have built successful businesses and had failed businesses over the past several decades. That backstory, thank you for asking. It’s a little bit important for all of us.We are the sum total of all of our life experiences – good, bad, indifferent, the people we've met – if we've been paying attention. Click To Tweet
We are the sum whole of all of our life experiences, good, bad, and different, the people we’ve met if we’ve been paying attention. All of us bring to work or to wherever we are on any given day. A phenomenal resume and pedigree, if we can leverage that, we can become phenomenally successful and leverage people around us. I get the luxury of working with business leaders and owners to help them significantly improve their productivity and profitability through human capital endeavors. I play with people. How do we get the best out of people? How do we give people a place to want to come bring their best every day?
We live in a world that we’re in the people business. You can have a business. It will thrive or die based on the people that are running this. You can have a phenomenal business. That shouldn’t have gone down. The people just ran it to the ground. This is a topic that I’m very passionate about because I feel that a very small percentage of people come to work deliberately to do wrong. Most people that take a job, they want to be successful. They want to be able to grow either there or eventually somewhere else. They want to make progress in their own life in the business. I want to park in then. Let’s get into some of the meat and potatoes of this topic. I think that our readers will really appreciate it. Walk me through it based on your past experience and what you’re seeing in the market. How much is it, the people first versus the leader first and the mix of both?
In the space where I have evolved into for the past several decades, in looking at this people business variable, one of the ways I engage organizations is through a program called the Leadership Academy of Excellence. Within that, I can speak very specifically to your question. What I challenge business owners, leaders, the C-Suite, the entrepreneur looking to start a business to really consider is to look at the business model that we’ve all been introduced to and taught through great business leaders in business schools.
I’m going to challenge a paradigm. If you just mentally think of an organizational diagram, no matter what the size of your businesses, scale it up. Scale it down. If you think of a major business, that CEO has a C-Suite. We all are familiar with it. No matter how big your businesses, if you’re the business leader, you have to think this way. You can scale it down. You’d have a Chief Operations Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Legal officer, etc., the whole C-Suite, technology, marketing, sales, HR. What I challenge business leaders, if we’re going to get into the meat and potatoes of the people first, leader first is to look at this way. If you, Mr. Hoffman, are the business owner, you’re bringing a Jeff Magee into your enterprise. I tell CEOs that your executive team is comprised of only two people. This is going to stress out a whole lot of the others on this org chart. The real model comes down to in business. There are only two capitals that Mr. Hoffman needs to focus on every day. One is finance, and two is human capital.
Whatever the title is, your Chief Financial Officer and your Chief Human Resource Officer or your Chief Financial Officer, your Chief Learning and Leadership Officer. If you want to challenge us, that’s great. You’re going to end up on the pile and heap of dead businesses because what COVID taught the planet in 2020 and 2021, it validated a model I have been presenting and writing my graduate textbooks for years. I have been vindicated. What is important at the end of the day, you can have any deliverable, any book, any building, any technology, any software, any equipment, but anything you can get as a business. Someone else can get as well. The real differentiator is that the human capital working on your team is not working at theirs, and vice versa. That’s one of your most valuable assets, and then money management. Any of your money people, whether it’s liquid assets, ability to get capital, get money, how you manage the money, etc. Those are two numbers to your most important assets.
Within that, what comes first, leadership or people? That’s like, what comes first, the chicken or the egg? For me, leadership is what’s going to come first because people fall into three basic demographics. I’ve been asserting this for decades, and Gallup Organization did some research. They put their names to it. I’m vindicated. I’ve been saying this for decades, and some people love it. Some people are neutrals. Some people got upset when I would say it. I would assert people fall into three categories. You have a large demographic of people that want to show up and participate. They’re not good. No plus signs next to that demographic. They’re not negative. No negative sign exit demographic. They want to come to work.
Some of the conversations you and I had before this show is that people want to have a job where they can make money, do good, progress forward slowly so they can provide for their family, etc. That’s their number one challenge. Call them followers, in essence. That’s your largest percentage. Who influences them were the next two demographics. In any organization, you have the potential, the capacity for negative people. They’re on the planet, turn on the TV, and the same all the time. Sadly, a lot of them are the news people. There’s a demographic that their business is complaining. They love the bitch and complain and undermine, whether it’s passive-aggressively, whether it’s overt, covert, right in your face, it doesn’t matter. We can talk about how to manage them as well.
The third group, which is what you really want to fixate on, are the proactive people, engaged people. Gallup did some research. They said 56% in any group are basically disengaged or complacent individuals. Back to your statement of leaders, leaders can engage them. Give them reasons to participate. Help them to understand where they’re trying to go in life, how their aspirations can align with the organization’s aspirations. You can electrify that 56% and bring them to your side. Galton said that to influencers, 15% of any demographic is always negative. We have to do a better job of interviewing and hiring, so we don’t hire someone else’s bad luggage. We need to create an organization in a society where we hold negative people accountable, which is very unfashionable. It’s why these people keep breeding, and we have more of them keep showing up every day.
The last is 29% of any demographic are engaged individuals. Study any high growth, hyper-growth or successful business of any size. Someone owns a pizzeria in Main Street, USA with four employees and are knocking out of the park being successful, or a high-tech company or a virtual company. They typically are successful because they’ve created an environment conducive to attract the 29% that are proactive. Engage that 29%, unleash their human capital. Give them an environment to be innovative, creative, and challenge, not the individual but challenged individuals, in essence, to think and operate. We’re always in essence, at the front side of success and innovating success. Is it leadership or people? It’s a little bit of both, but it is the leader.
Here’s the challenge. Being a leader doesn’t have to equate to a title on a business card. You can be a leader of yourself. You can be a leader when you stand up against injustice. You can be a leader when you say, “Wait a second.“ Everyone’s getting themselves all worked up on a topic. It might be yes, we need to address it. It’s not nearly as bad as you’re making it. You’re manifesting an issue. Leadership can be grown, taught, shown, modeled, and trained. Leadership sometimes is innate. Some people are born leaders. Chicken or the egg? What comes first is the debate. I think leadership before people because people look for leaders.Business comes down to only two constructs. Every business is either a deliverable or has a distribution system. Very few are both. Click To Tweet
It’s just shocking that in statistics, 29% are proactive. Sometimes you could think that everybody’s productive in your company. I have a couple of very important follow-up questions if you don’t mind. This is something that I’ve been dealing with business owners all the time. This is always a question. There is a trend out there to create healthier cultures, healthier environments in companies, and making a great place to work in different companies. It’s way more than it was many years ago when you started. There’s a trend there. People are not only there for a paycheck. They want to have a good environment and everything else. How different is it? Somebody starts a company, and they want to attract immediately those great people versus, “Here I am, I took over a company, and I evolved, and now I have 72 employees.“ I have to figure it out between those three different groups that you mentioned before. Talk to that leader listening thing. I’m already stuck with my people. How do I go about it?
A lot of answers if we unpack that question. Let me reframe it not to answer a different question. Whenever someone asks me a question, the way my brain processes is when I hear a question, I hear it as a case study. I only answer through the data you give me. The challenge is sometimes we start to answer a question. It’s not that person with 72 employees that I’ve inherited because that’s what you just gave me. We start answering it, and so the person said, “I was ready for this kind of a question in feedback,” but now she’s answering from a different perspective. I hear it as a case study. I have literally global clients. I have clients in Berlin, London, Paraguay.
I was on a Zoom video call with a gentleman and a lady from Panama. I have clients all across North America, where I’m primarily based and live. I have business owners and leaders that are literally leaders of multi-million, $100 million, billion–dollar companies that are in their mid–30s, up to their 60s. I frame that for our readers’ perspective that I hopefully encompassed you. If I’ve inherited the team, let me break it down a couple of ways. The way I look at business, business comes down to only two constructs. Every business is either a deliverable or has a distribution system. Very few are both. Either you create a deliverable and then somehow, someway, you get it to the marketplace, or you have the marketplace, and you’re looking for deliverables to put into your pipeline. Walmart is a distribution system.
It’s not a deliverable. It doesn’t make anything. Procter & Gamble, they’re a deliverable. They make things. They don’t distribute anything. Apple, in a way, is a little bit of both, but not really because they don’t make anything. They outsource it. Someone else makes it, but they own the distribution system. You can only get it through them. Tesla’s a little bit of both. They source it. They build it. They distribute it to their stores. Think about who you are because that’s important to the question you posed of the 72 people I’ve just inherited. Understanding business is one of those two categories. That’s a whole another conversation we could go down to, then I go to the next level.
The way that you engage the consumer‘s mind. I look at employees, I look at my co-workers as a consumer. The way that I’m going to engage a consumer’s mind to get them to continue to buy from me, therefore engage with me. If I want to change a consumer’s mind away from what it is doing, I want to change your behavior and bring it to me. What I’ve recognized through performance psychology is that we only make a buying decision for one of or a combination of four reasons. As a leader, if I can look at these four reasons and look individually in each of my 72 people, then I can find a way to fire them up and get their heart, soul, and brain back engaged in my company. We’re really going to have momentum.
In the course of doing this, any of the 72 that don’t want to show up, they’ll start to get the clue. They need to shut up or find another organization because they’re going to get run over, not by me the leader. They’re going to get run over by their colleagues. They’re all of a sudden excited to reengage. We change our buying decisions for four reasons and in no particular order. One is the word better. If I can show you I have something better than what you have right now, everyone’s going to look at that, consider that. It doesn’t mean you’re going to buy it right this second. Whether I’m in a major US city like New York City, or in a mid–sized city in America, or I’m in rural America, it doesn’t matter. Consumers’ minds work the same way whether it’s online, face to face, over the phone, or virtual video, etc. One is better. The second is going to be faster. Faster, meaning efficiencies. If I can show you my software program is more efficient than what you’re using, everyone’s going to look and consider it. Doesn’t mean you’re going to buy, but I’ve captured your attention.
The third is different. What’s different? Think about the spelling of your first name. There’s more than one way to spell that. My first name Jeffrey. There are lots of ways to spell that. If I want to go formal British, they use Geoffrey. The first time I saw that, that’s a Geoff. That’s not a Jeff. A little humor, but again, that’s the word different. Usually, when parents have a child, they want to give their child a name that’s different than what all the other kids have right now. The problem is I didn’t think two steps into that word different. You grow up and go to school, and there are like 9,000 Menys at the same time. There’s 9000 Jeffreys. Better, faster, different.
The fourth is cost-effective. You have better, faster, different and cost–effective. Everyone wants the biggest bang for the buck. The problem with number four, the reverse doesn’t mean everyone wants to spend less. People pay a whole lot more if you give them a value proposition. I’m on LinkedIn. Everyone should be following me and connect with me on LinkedIn. I don’t sell anything on LinkedIn. But if you follow me, you’ll see how I’m engaging the mind from the perspective of this show. One of the things I do, smartly, most people on LinkedIn, which is the only business professional platform as long as it doesn’t get hijacked and turned into something stupid, I follow tons of other thought leaders, influencers, market influencers, and businesses.
They don’t even know I’m following them. I’m always getting a pulse of what’s happening out there better, faster, different, cost-effective. Here’s what’s fascinating to your question of how do I engage people, which is getting back to the question. If I show people or recognize someone, what is it that Jeffrey can do that’s different than Meny? I have a way to engage Jeff differently. If I can identify what you can do better than someone else, I’m coming to you just for your uniqueness. The cliche nowadays is what’s your superpower. It’s the same basic stuff. What is your uniqueness? What is your strength? I can engage you on your strength level and give you a way to apply that within my organization. That is almost every time. Not 100%, but it’s like 99% of time, an automatic way to pull someone in.
In my leadership work, I have a model called the Player Capability Index Model. I talked about it in my book, Your Trajectory Code. I talked about it in my management books. It’s a finite objective model to help the person in leadership to identify where those super strengths are in people. Those are the ways you can engage someone to bring them to your team if you’ve inherited to 72. If you think about the two models I’ve just given to you, start using them in interviewing someone to promote them to a new job. I’m looking to promote someone into this next slot. I’m looking at you and Susan. Let’s get right to the point. Help me to understand what you can do in this job that would make you a better, faster, different, more cost-effective leader in this role than anyone else in the organization. “Susan, thanks for applying for this job. Help me understand what would make you better, faster, different, more cost-effective in this job than anyone else. I’m interviewing from the outside.“
Those are four really powerful interviewing questions that are legal anywhere. The other problem is a lot of laws are created by mediocre people to protect themselves and not allow the spotlight to be shown on the fact that they’re not that impressive, and never should have been put in leadership or elected office. The bigger your business is, you said 72 people, you’re starting to now tiptoe into a neighborhood where there are certain questions that you think would be okay to ask that can legally get you in trouble.
Those four questions are perfect in any interview. “Thanks for coming into the organization today. I appreciate you applying for this job. Let’s just get right to the point. Help me to understand how you can do this job better than anyone on my team right now. What makes you better than any other candidate? Help me understand how you can do this job faster, more efficiently than anyone else.” Those four questions really cause a person to think and present themselves. Great question. Seven different answers to what you can address how to engage those people.
Just to make sure that I understood the answer correctly. On the part of the same way that people make buying decisions based on those four, that could be talking points in an interview to figure out how to weed out the good candidates from the outside world.
That’s the way to engage the 72 you’ve inherited in a different way. The other trap we fall into as business leaders, and owners sometimes is we might be thinking macro, big picture, way out in the future, the horizon. We have to come back and look at the team we have now that’s going to get us to those elements. Here’s the way as a leader to not dominate the conversation. Get your ego out of the room and open up your team by saying, “We can have a whiteboard here on the wall, guys. Here’s our topic for this month. Does anyone have an idea and how to make it better, faster, different, or cost-effective—maybe put four columns on a whiteboard—anytime during the day this week, start jotting your ideas down. Next week, we’ll come back and brainstorm this chart.” Invite people to success. Invite people to win, and they’ll show up.
There’s a line that I use a lot when I speak to leaders about existing cultures is fire everybody mentally once a year. Sometimes we get so comfortable with an employee as a team member, and we never reevaluate. Are they the better choice at the job? Are there better opportunities for that? At least mentally have that conversation once a year to see how they’re producing.
Decades ago, there was a gentleman by the name of Jack Welch. He was the CEO of a major Fortune 10 Corporation. He challenged people to think differently by exactly what you did. A lot of people have misunderstood strategically what he was saying, and that’s sad. His point was, if you’re bottom 20% every year, you should fire him. Remove them from the team. What he was challenging us as leaders, number one, as leaders, are we growing? Are we coaching? Are we engaging? Are we creating developmental plans? Are we looking at our talent hierarchy in a smart way every year, every month, every day to grow and develop people, so no one falls below the peak performer level? You build a winning team by everyone being winners. Let’s go back to the demographic a minute ago.
A lot of times, your workplace is made up of got rock stars. That’s your engaged 29% from Gallup or a number I’ve been using for decades. You have people that are performing and just getting by. That’s your 56%. You got your disengaged actively, that’s 15%, negative or not performing at expectations. It was at not performing up to expectations that Jack Welch was challenging everyone at GE base. If you can’t get them up to level number one, this is not the right place for them. We’re not doing them a service. We’re not doing us a service. I’m doing the coworkers a service.
Get smarter about how you grow, develop, how you educate, how you perform at performance reviews, how you hire the next person, so we’re not having to get rid of the bottom team. Mentally thinking about if I fired my team member or if I mentally took all my leaders, wrote their name on a sheet of paper, messed around with them, pull them back out and say, “My CFO this time is going to be the name I pull out.“ Maybe it’s your Chief Legal Officer, now your CFO. What was your Chief Ops person you pull out, “Who’s going to be my Chief HR person? It’s Ops.” If you’re a great leader, within reason, you should be able to step into any role and do a good job. That’s another way to think about firing your team mentally.
I want to go back to the leader. You mentioned before when we spoke that some of them are born leaders and some of them, they fell into this position. They started a company. It was a small, one-man operation entrepreneur. Then they hired number two, number three, and then all of a sudden, they’re not leading a team. Based on your experience, how much could you advance in becoming that leader if you’re not born that leader? How much is it just a natural trait? You’re born without skill.
Let’s look at this a couple of ways. If I list some of the traits or characteristics or attributes of a leader, and one of them is they’re outgoing and engaging, then it would be an easy connect, if someone’s an extrovert, they’re going to be more capable of being outgoing and engaging. Therefore, Jeff’s an introvert, and so I don’t know if he’d be good in his leadership role. You can make that assessment. Now, let’s say we want to promote Jeff into that role. Knowing that we don’t think he’s really going to shine as an engaging, outgoing person, we can train that. We can develop that. We can mentor that.
We can send Jeff to a Dale Carnegie Public Speaking course. He’s one of the granddaddies in that space for the last 100 years. We could send them a college that has an executive program on how to be more of an extrovert, how to be better at networking, how to be better at presentation skills one on one in front of a group. We can send them to different professional trade groups, Toastmasters. We can enroll them in that. There are a lot of ways we could give Jeff the tool chest of the tools he would need to possess to be more consciously engaged in being an engaging, outgoing person.Everyone wants the biggest bang for the buck. Click To Tweet
We can answer it either way. Let’s say another one of the traits or characteristics of a good leader is. We write that one down. It’s okay. It’s hard to say you’re born with that one. We then have to train that. We have to develop that. We have to mentor that. We have to nurture that. I do believe we can grow great leaders. Great leaders are leaders that are willing to be held accountable, and therefore, they hold others accountable. Great leaders are willing to be proactive and not wait. Great leaders are able to have clarity of what’s the values of the organization they’re leading or their own personal values because values drive your internal visions of where you can go or what you believe in. Once you have your values connected to your vision, then usually we might write that down and we call that in business a mission statement.
From that, we say, what are the key performance indicators for a business unit or an individual that they need to do on a daily, weekly basis to be on the trajectory, to execute and live up to that mission statement. That gets us to our vision of where we want to go, what’s important to us. That reaffirms our values that we have. All of those words can come together as a puzzle. You put it together. Now, you have a clear picture. You can build and develop great leaders, but everything I’ve just said, that individual has to be willing to embrace it. There’s another variable. Do you have the work ethic? Do you have the dedication? Do you have the passion? Do you have the drive to want to embrace these items we write down that a good leader has to represent?
Sometimes people don’t want to be the number one. They don’t want to be the leader. They want to be number two because sometimes the challenge of being a leader is that you’ve got a bull’s eye on your forehead, sadly enough, because you’re the target of everyone’s criticism. You’re the target of anyone who wants to throw someone under the bus when there’s a problem. Sometimes, being number two can give you an entire career. Number one may have a short lifespan. A lot of variables into that question you posed.
I want to move into speaking about the work they use a lot between the content you put out and some of your books the full potential of human capital. We have those people working for us. How do we make sure that everybody’s working and giving their full potential, what they have available for the company? Talk about what do you consider full potential. How do you manage that with accountability?
A couple of ways I could respond to that. When I’m working with a client, whether it’s executive coaching, or whether I’m doing high-level leadership training and development in organization, let me default back to the Leadership Academy of Excellence Program. That’s my signature product. In the very first session, month one, it’s a one-year relationship minimum when I go into work with an organization, we present three tools in that first session. One is a modeling concept called Your Trajectory Code from the book Your Trajectory Code. Two is a formula that we use for manual leadership perspective called The Managerial Leadership Grid. The third one, which now answers your question, is The Player Capability Index.
The Player Capability Index model gives you an objective way of looking at a person to uncover and unleash what their full potential is. There’s a formula I’ve created to identify what is it that makes up the operational DNA of a human being if you would allow me to say it that way. One, in order to unleash someone’s full potential, I love the way you say that, you first have to have an objective. That’s the keyword to underlined in your head right now. You have to have an objective way of looking at yourself in the mirror number one, to unleash your full potential and be true with yourself or to look at someone else objectively.
The problem we have on our planet, it’s not good or bad, and you’re never going to get rid of it because human beings are human beings, is that we do rush to conclusions. We rush to judgments. We judge a book at first glance. If you and I met for the very first time, we don’t even know each other. Unfortunately, we do start to size each other up about what we look like, the environment we’re in, your background, my background. We can hesitate until we say, “Let me meet the person. Let me have a couple of good paragraphs of engagement before I start to say, ‘I guess right or wrong,’ you can’t unleash human potential because we’re human nature.” It’s sad but we‘re there. Anyone says they’re completely objective and not prejudiced, give me five minutes, and I’ll blow your brain up and show you, yes, you are. You may not be as bad as me, but we all are prejudiced.
With that said, unleash the full potential. I love it. I’m going to keep saying it. That’s a great word. I’m going to hijack it and use it. If we’re going to unleash someone’s full potential, we first have to know what that’s made of. A couple of quick examples. Part of our human potential comes out of the academic DNA of a human being. Academic meaning, did you get good elementary school education or your K-12 teachers were ill-prepared to teach you any of the disciplines of K-12 and gave you derailed agenda, misinformation? You then go on to technical school. Yes or no? You went on to college, yes, or no? You went into a vocation where they started teaching you the skill sets to just do the minimum job. Did they do a good job at teaching that? Did you work in an environment where the culture was giving, nurturing, supportive, and not toxic? All of that is academic.
Do you read books? Do you go on the internet and look at great YouTubes, educational programs, and webinars? Are you always feeding your mind? Benjamin Franklin had a classic line, “The person who empties their purse to their head will never be bankrupt.” I can take that nice shirt you’re wearing. You can take my jacket. We can lose our house. If we have mental DNA, we can always get it back. The first way of looking at human potential is what’s between the person’s ears? What’s the DNA of their white-collar side? What’s the artistry of their hands for the blue-collar side? Unleash your potential. If I know what that is, I can engineer activities. I can delegate tasks to the place to that academic side. I can hold you accountable to the level of proficiency I know you have, and people will always step up if they’re capable.
The problem we have in society is we’ve been lowering the performance bar so long for so many people. The reality for most people is, they operate at letter C. If you think of the GPA of ABCDEF. Most people operated C. I’m going to come back to that. That’s the second answer to your question of unleashing potential. That’s one. The second way of unleashing potential would be the academic DNA inside you. The third’s going to be the practitioner. If I know your life resume, I know what you did when you’re 15 or 16 years of age. If I know what you did in essence for the past decade, if I know you went to college or not, it doesn’t matter. What was the discipline you study? What jobs, titles, positions, roles you’ve had on your resume? I asked you to bring those to life. Tell me what this meant. Walk me through a day in your life in this role here.
I can see the practitioner side of your head, which then tells me what experiences you also have. What wins, losses and ties you had in your life. I can engineer an environment that gives you the chance to display and showcase that. I can give you tasks and raise the bar. Unleashing human potential, that’s two ways I’ve just given everyone as to how you can identify it and how you can go after it. How you get it is about the rewards system. Do you get paid a paycheck? Do you get a bonus? Do you get a commission? Do you get compensation? Is it part of your compensation and trade that I give you a company vehicle, which happens in lots of organizations? If you tie the compensation to the behaviors, experiences and the ROIs you’re after, you’ll get more of it. A lot of answers from a cursory standpoint giving you three.
Let me go back to ABCDF grades so we can see how we’ve conditioned people to not bring their full potential. Think of a time you’ve been to a nice restaurant, whatever that means in your head, where they bring you the bill at the end, and you pay with cash or you sign it to your account, or you give them your credit card. If you’ve ever been in a restaurant like that, there’s always a line for the tip, the gratuity. Almost everyone feels compelled to always put some gratuity there even if you’ve got world-class crappy service. If you’ve ever left a gratuity for crappy service, you’ve rewarded not full potential.
If you think about ABCDF grades, there should never be a teacher allowed to give a B or a D again. Those are cop-out grades. Every performance review should either be an A, C or an F. You did the job you’re supposed to do, that’s a C. It means you’re doing it. You don’t do the job you’re hired to do, then you have to get the other score, which is F. You failed in that area. Are you doing more than was expected of your job or job description? I, the leader, will have to score you an A because that’s how you earned an A. A B and a D is a teacher’s inability to say you’re not smart or you’re stupid. Call it like it is. I spent two years in first grade. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I guess I’m slow as a professional because I never really put into context. I was held back and flunked first grade until later in life. That’s the smartest thing I did because it helped me to learn what full potential is and reach for that high bar versus just getting by with mediocrity. We score and compensate Cs. It’s why most organizations have Cs, if truth is told.
I’ll just add to that. If people see this is the organization you are, the A’s become C’s very quickly.
They lower their performance bar or worse yet, not only do they lower their performance bar, which is exactly what happens more often than not, or they leave and go to another organization or they leave and start a competing organization. That’s a lot of business to get started. It’s the A’s and say, “I’m tired of being around a bunch of mediocre people.” No one really wants to say that way because we’re going to hurt someone’s feelings. I don’t want to hurt your feelings, so we keep carrying deadwood in the organization forever. It’s amazing how many businesses I come across in the course of a day or week or month in my life that have low performers, and they condone it. What you tolerate is what you condone. What you condone is what you tolerate. I’ve been using that saying for a long time.
Let’s take one step further. We have an employee, let’s say they’re the first six months, and they were graded with your system. Let’s say they’re a C. How do we get them to become an A? What is the coaching? The mentorship? What can we put in for accountability purposes that we’re making progress that we’re not finding ourselves six months later, we were back to a C again?
Let’s unbundle that case study. Let’s say at six months, we have someone who’s not performing where we want them to be. First of all, let’s relook at the first six months and change that for anyone going forward. Typically, when we onboard a person or organization, we all have high hopes for greatness. The reason they have derailed at month six and are not where we want them to be is because we screwed up the first six months. Truth be told, you’ve hired me and it’s okay to the end each of these 30 days, Jeff. We’ll be doing this throughout every day, all month long. Once a day, every 30, 60, 90 days, I want us to hit stop, sit down and look at your job description on the table. Look at your work product that you’re working on or accomplishing.
Where are we in your progression of development? Are we giving you, in essence, to grow to tune in so we can make sure we calibrate every 36 days? That’s the rough macro to that approach. At six months, if someone’s off track, we screwed up 30, 60. We didn’t make those dates happen because we got so busy on the other things. Time got away from us as the reality. Let me back this bus up a minute. Let me speak to it this way. If you want to make sure you onboard someone, at six months, you’re not sitting down with someone who’s off track, back up. Every job from the C-Suite to the entry-level, front door, newest employee. There are two formulas that we use in the world of organizational leadership in dynamics and training. Every job comes down to three letters, TDR. I look at a job description, and it clearly speaks to the Tasks, Duties and Responsibilities that are contained within the title on the top of the sheet of paper called a job description, for lack of a better way setting this up. I know I’m setting the stage for person at six months to be successful. If any of the TDRs on that job description are outdated or vague, then I’m going to have someone off track at six months probably.
The second element here is when we screw this up as business owners. This is where we messed us up in HR and training. If we have in essence a training program that clearly identifies a TDR we want to reinforce with the new TDRs we want to get someone up to speed, then every TDR has to correlate to a second set of letters, KSA. Knowledge, Skills and Abilities that someone must possess. If I’m going to hire someone right out of the gate, what’s the minimum knowledge, skills and abilities I want in a new hire to do these TDRs or any TDR? If you have those two equations clearly defined, on day one, when you hire someone, it helps us to have a weekly check-in to make sure we’re on track.
These weekly check-ins are not going to be a long waste of time. I can say, “This week, our key performance indicator of knowing we’re on track or off track with these TDRs. These are your TDRs, Mr. Hoffman, that you’re responsible for this week. These are the KSAs that I’ve identified that you need to draw upon from what you tell me you got on your resume to do this week’s work. Do you have any question on these TDRs before I leave, and go back to my office because we’re not going to see each other all week? We can maybe text. We can have a virtual call phone call.“
Let’s just say for the sake of conversation. I’m not going to see you for five days. In the beginning, if I clearly identify the TDRs and the KSAs, you say you’ve got the case, you understand the TDRs, we get together on Friday, it’s going to be really hard for you to not be right on track. Occasionally, something might come up with an anomaly and unexpected that might have derailed you. Now, we’re able to speak to it then if I were not available on an ongoing basis, which is even better. I should always be available to you. If we do that on a weekly basis or on each shift basis, here’s the beginning of the shift. Here are our goalposts into the shift. Let‘s debrief. I’ve got lots of clients that, between every shift, they do a handoff or a pass down or pass through. They call lots of phrases where this team of team leaders for this shift hands off to the team leaders coming in. Here’s what’s working. Here’s what’s not working. Here’s a problem. Here’s the fix. In those environments, they keep the machines running. Great question you’ve posed. The reason we have someone derail at six months is because we screwed up the previous five.
A lot of people, when we speak about career reviews, KSA, whatever the terminology that we’re using for accountability, people say how do you have time for so many meetings? I said, “I want to look at your calendar. I bet you’re having way more meetings with those people because it’s only when something is going wrong, you’re calling them in unexpectedly and having way more time spent than these quick check-ins and making sure that you’re on track or off track.”
Do it right, it takes less time. Doing it wrong, you get to go back and spend a lot more time.
I want to ask you one more question on the same topic. At which point does the leader make a decision, “We’re not making the progress that we need to make with this employee. Let’s set them free. Maybe they have other opportunities. No, maybe it’s my mentorship. I’m not giving them enough of the mentorship and training.“ Is there something that you have seen from your experience that could be an indicator for that?Sometimes, being number two can give you an entire career. Those who are number one often have a short lifespan. Click To Tweet
Barring something egregious has happened, which would dictate we’ve got to part company now, I think there are several ways to speak to it. Let’s think of a time continuum, from start to departure of an employee from an organization. There are several things we have to look at. One, sometimes the jobs we hire someone for, they have a lifespan in and of themselves. It may not be that long. We have a job that is to keep mentally and physically anyone in this job for more than six months. We have to build our business model around that, to always be finding good talent to come in and that window to work for six months. What we may want to look at is what’s the position hierarchy of an organization. Maybe this position has a high turnover. It could be an entry-level onboarding, feeding job to the next job in my company. “Someone’s going to come in. They’re going to work good for six months because they know it’s going to progress them to the next role.“ We’ve identified some turnover issues. We’re able to retain greater people in the company, and that becomes a profitability stream.
Sometimes we may have a role that maybe that doesn’t work. We’re going to have a high turnover, whether it’s seasonal or what have you. We have to make sure we have a huge prospect of a pipeline of human beings that we can find. We can automate that job away or we’re always able to find people to fit into it. That’s one way of answering. Sometimes, you need to cut bait and let him go. It might be timeline connected to the job has that nothing to do with human beings. Let’s say it‘s a human being issue, human capital, in your mind, it’s not cutting it. Let’s back up for a second. Look at the TDRs, and the KSAs someone needs to possess to be hired into that job to start with. Did we mess that up? Sometimes, going back and looking at that exit interview stages in your head, whether you’ve talked to them or not, and realize we may have mis–hired to start with. Naturally, we’ve got this problem again. The problem may have manifested after we hired them. We screwed up. We, not them. We messed up before they even started. We could fix that element.
Let’s look at TDRs and KSAs. Let’s take it down a time continuum from when you hired them to now, “I think I’ve got to get rid of them.“ Whether that’s days, weeks, months, years or decades, you might say, “They’re not fulfilling the TDRs.“ There’s a second gate you can hold yourself accountable. Did I give them adequate training and development to possess and gain the KSA to do that TDR? It’s like having a compliance checklist. Did I personally train them, yes or no? Did I have anyone in the organization train them, yes or no? Did we train them effectively the right way, yes or no? Are there any online training portals, programs, webinars, modules we could have plugged them into to help them out?
Were there any outsource experts we could have brought in or any subject matter experts we could have brought in to train them? Were there any training programs outside we sent them to? Did we have any other subject matter experts or organizations? It could have been a mentor. That might have been a better mentor or advisor or go to person for them. You can create a checklist of all the ways onboarding grows someone. You can come back and answer your own question in a more informed, objective, professional way by identifying all the ways to onboard someone now.
If you went through all of those steps, and your performance is not increasing, the next overlay is what management hat did you have when you sat down to visit with them? Maybe this was a conversation. Did you go back in a conversational email that said, “Mr. Hoffman, I appreciate visiting with you this morning on project ABC? The ongoing challenges XYZ, as we discussed here, some ways to address XYZ, here are the steps to make XYZ go away. Here are the checkpoints to make sure doesn’t happen again. It’s really important that we address and resolve it so it doesn’t happen again.“ I started to create a documentation trail. It was conversational. It wasn’t heavy-handed. It wasn’t going to threaten anyone. That is a conversational documentation trail.
The problem continues, I go back and look at the email. I might send that same email back after conversation and say, “Meny, I’m going to hold you accountable. This has to be fixed. You can’t keep doing it.” It happens again. Maybe there’s an HR form I fill out with a formal reprimand or a statement. Now I have checklists, all the ways to go and develop so when I’ve done that. I feel confident. I can feel confident with my decision. I might have to let Mr. Hoffman go. I have talked to him. I’ve documented it. I’ve got HR involved. I have HR or my HR approach where I filled out some documents and handed it to you.
It then escalates to the last element. “If this happens again, Mr. Hoffman, I have to let you go.“ There’s that conversation document with an email given to you whether you sign it or not. All of that’s done. Wherever you are, because you hired him here, it’s time to get rid of him, whether that’s days, months, weeks, or years. When you get to that gate, it’s time you’ve got to do it. The longer you wait to terminate someone when it’s obvious time to let them go, do you and them a disservice. Letting someone go doesn’t have to be ugly and mean. Do it with grace and dignity, and do it quick. Set them up for success.
Last example. Years ago, I had a gentleman who worked in my office. He was in sales and marketing, a great sharp guy. He came to work every day, dressed professionally. He worked hard. He’s really was from all those elements. It became obvious after a period of time, sales and marketing was just not in his DNA. No matter how we tried to train, help, engage, set him up, nothing was really working. I’m not the world’s best sales professional, but I think I’m somewhat good at this. It became obvious. I know what’s going to happen. Eventually, he’s going to quit and leave. He’ll feel discouraged, demoralized, and maybe bad blood and I don’t want that. I sat him down and said, “Robin, here’s the deal. This is obviously not working.”
He leaned back and he’s like, “Yes, thank you for finally saying it.” “Here’s what I want to do. I’m not going to fire you. There’s not really another real job in my company structure at this time.“ It’s a small firm. It had 22 employees. The largest business I sold was a several hundred million–dollar company, 144 employees. I’ve had the span. I’ve worked with corporations with tens of thousands of people. I said, “Robin, here’s the deal. I’ve got several projects. You’re good and like as a project manager. That’s what you’re good at doing. I’ve got a couple of projects. I want you to help my finance team and my ad team to work on.“
“In over the next 30 to 60 days, I’m going to keep paying you. I’ll pay you for the next two months. I want you to put your resume together and look for some jobs. The best time to look for a job is when you’re gainfully employed, not when you’re unemployed. I will give a great testimonial endorsement letter. You’ve got the ethic. You’ve got the dedication. It ticks all the boxes. The reason you’re leaving is this is not the right job for you. It’s the only thing. There’s nothing negative I can say about you, except you suck at this job.“ That was it, and so he got it. He went on. He got a great job with a much bigger company, and years later, we’re still friends. I haven’t seen him in many years, but we’re still friends. We saw each other on a plane. We reconnected.
I always say that you have to make it about the responsibility, nothing personal. It’s not about personal. On a personal level, you do it with dignity. You try to help out the person giving a testimonial, even make a phone call or two about that person. I want to get one more question. I think our time is going very fast with this great conversation.
Thank you so much.
You have written 31 books by now. You have the book TALENTification!. I want to give us the 30-second soundbite of what is this book different than the others and what is the focus of the book for our audience to get a glimpse of it.
Thirty one books, 21 languages, 4 graduate textbooks in management, 4 legitimate bestsellers. I’ve written one personal success book. Talentification is back in that business leadership, business owner C-Suite genre. I’m making up this word talentification. We‘ve had presidents that make up words, I figured, so can I. What I’ve done so from my lens is I’ve looked at the entire circle diagram, pie chart, wherever you want to say, of talent. Looking at your great organizations, I’ve worked with individuals. We look at talent terms of talent identification, talent acquisition, talent development, talent management, talent succession, talent termination, any of those. What I’ve identified, there are ten phases to the entire lifecycle of the word talent, from beginning to end.
What the book does is it identifies those ten from a macro perspective, what they look like in a business from a macro perspective. I go a little bit deep on a couple of them, but it’s not a heavy read, micro book on all ten steps. I speak to what it is. I set the stage at the whole concept of talent. Finish that any way you want, talent management, talent development, talent leadership. The concept of talent should be owned by every person in the organization. When everyone understands that they all own at some level talent, your business will thrive. If you’re the CEO and owner, you own it. Let’s say you hire someone to be your people person, your HR person. They’re going to hire more of those ten points of HR when it comes to talent. If you have a recruiter that works in your company, they’re going to need to understand all ten. They’re going to be fixating on the talent acquisition, going out, and finding the right people for all the managers in the company. I need someone here and here.
Let’s say I’m a member of the team. I have no aspirations to be a management. If I understand talent, then I also am keeping my eye open all the time for a great person in our company, whether it’s a pizza delivery person that comes to my house or whether it’s the dry cleaner when I’m picking up my clothes, or I’m involved in my church or my synagogue, it’s some young person or older person I see or meet. I’m always thinking, “I find someone who’s phenomenal. How can my organization utilize it?” I bet you heard this somewhere. Years ago, I heard an executive make the comment. I’ve heard a lot of people since then. I remember an executive, a business owner I worked with, make the comment, “I’m always hiring.”
It caught my attention because I didn’t know we were at that time. I’m always looking for great talent. I find someone who’s great. I’m going to hire them. I’ll figure out where to put them next, but I want them on my team. TALENTification! looks at the entire concept of talent from my lens that no one else has identified. All these phases, how they all connect, and how it comes together to make your human capital one of the two core assets in your company where we started this show. It’s about money in people at the end of the day. Everything else can make itself happen.
Outside of LinkedIn, where can people find more information about you?
Thank you very much. One is obviously on LinkedIn. Two, they can go to JeffreyMagee.com. They can see all my B2B and B2C resources, books, training, programs, blogs, and audios. Then a media company I own is called ProfessionalPerformanceMagazine.com. There they can subscribe to digital or hardcopy print. Each quarter we go to twenty phenomenal global personalities, and we invite them to write an article about performance achievement success to their lands. We’ve been doing it for many years, phenomenal first read content you won’t find anywhere else on the internet.
This has been great. We’ll link up to all the resources discussed to more ways to get in touch with our guests. Let’s close with the four rapid-fire questions. Are you ready?
Alright. Let’s go.
Number one, a book that changed your life.
Number two, a piece of advice you got that you never forget.
Legacy. It’s what I’m always sharing people, legacy. What you do is your legacy. That’s all you’re going to remember.
Number three, anything you go back and do differently.
The statistics stay at 50%. 50% of the guests say right away no or they’ll have yes. Last, the final question. What’s still on your bucket list to achieve?
I want to keep doing exactly what I’m doing. I’m blessed. I love the job that I’ve been given the gift to do. That simply to help other people to elevate their ability to be more successful and the people around them.
Jeffrey, thank you so much for joining us. I know your time is valuable. That is why in the name of our readers, we’ll forever be grateful for sharing your time with us.
I appreciate greatly being able to share with you and your readers.
It was a pleasure.
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About Dr. Jeffrey Magee CSP/CMC/CBE/PDM
C-Suite and Military General clients come to Dr. Jeffrey Magee for ENTERPRISE-WIDE Talent Development & Human Capital succession architecture.
Jeffrey Magee, PhD/CBE/CMC/CSP/PDM is the “Thought Leaders Leader.” Jeffrey is the publisher of www.ProfessionalPerformanceMagazine.com, editor of the LEADERSHIP MASTERY and SALES MASTERY blogs, a former nationally syndicated Radio Talk Show Host, as well as a publisher author of 31 books, translated into 21-languages, to include 4-Best Sellers (YOUR TRAJECTORY CODE/WILEY)) and 4 graduate management textbooks (THE MANAGERIAL-LEADERSHIP BIBLE/PEARSON EDUCATION).
He is a leadership columnist, and a highly sought global professional speaker on performance psychology. The recipient of the United States Junior Chamber’s TEN OUTSTANDING YOUNG AMERICANS (TOYA) Award, and the United States National GUARD’s Total Team VICTORY Medal for civilian contribution to the Armed Services.
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